Heavy steel beams brought in for WHS middle school project

Crews delivered and unloaded more than a dozen 70-foot-long steel beams Monday to Williamstown High School. The beams will be used in a new auditorium for the school’s middle school wing. (Photo by Michael Erb)

WILLIAMSTOWN — Authorities closed a section of Fifth Street Monday as crews delivered and unloaded more than a dozen 70-foot-long steel beams to Williamstown High School.

The beams, each weighing about 1,800 pounds, will be installed this week in the ceiling of the new middle school auditorium.

Williamstown High School is being expanded to create a true middle/high school. The middle school wing is expected to be open in the spring, though some sections might not be completed until after the start of the 2020-21 school year, officials have said.

Wood County Schools Assistant Superintendent Mike Fling was at the Williamstown High construction site Monday during the delivery of the steel beams. Fling said a large crane is brought in pieces today and will be assembled on Fifth Street to place the beams into the auditorium structure.

“They’ll be swinging the steel and setting it on the auditorium roof, and that takes a while,” he said. “They have to be set, tacked in place, welded, bolted down, and setting them one at a time as they go across.”

Crews remove chains from a shipment of steel beams, each weighing about 1,800 pounds, Monday on Fifth Street in front of Williamstown High School. A portion of the road will be closed the remainder of the week due to construction and heavy equipment. (Photo by Michael Erb)

Fling said the project is expected to take several days to complete, and traffic will continue to be rerouted around the work zone.

“It’s not a fast process,” he said. “It’ll take 3-4 days with decent weather.”

Officials were concerned about the size of the beams and whether the truck hauling them would be able to negotiate the S-turn on Fifth Street in front of the Williamstown City Building, but crews were able to do so without incident Monday.

Because of the size of the vehicles needed and due to safety concern, the city has agreed to close part of Fifth Street to through traffic until the work is complete. Buses also were asked to use alternate routes when picking up or dropping off students at the high school.

“We’re trying to inconvenience everyone as little as possible,” Fling said.

Crews at Williamstown High School help lower a 70-foot-long steel beam into the construction area for the school’s new middle school wing. A heavy crane will be brought in this week to place more than a dozen of the beams into the new auditorium. (Photo by Michael Erb)

A full update on construction and renovation projects throughout Wood County Schools will be provided at tonight’s Wood County Board of Education meeting. The meeting begins at 6 p.m. at the board’s 13th and Plum streets offices in Parkersburg.